The Recognition: The Politics of Human Exchange program exemplifies
the award-winning educational opportunities available at Evergreen. The
overall structure and function of this program is exceptional. The
availability of individualized self-directed learning experiences,
terrific support facilities, and outstanding faculty involvement, are
why I chose Evergreen, rather than the many Colleges and Universities
closer to my home in Marysville. I gladly drive for 2 hours each way,
to receive this quality of education!
I cannot thank Gary Peterson, Raul Nakasone, and David Rutledge enough for their outstanding work this year! It is their commitment to the goals of this program, and to the education of their students that maintains the exceptional quality of this program.
Many of the students in the program this year are graduating and going on to graduate school. Many of us (myself for sure) would never have chosen to go on if it were not for the advise, encouragement and direct involvement of our instructors!
This program is part of an ongoing 20-year plan. It is extremely well thought out and I feel it is well structured to bring out the very best in each student.
Their ability to organize such a wide variety of students, each with their own educational goals into a functioning community of learners is simply amazing. They utilize a list server on campus, a website, a suggested reading list, group discussions (primarily student led), instructor led lectures, guest speakers and constant personal contact via email and in person to weave this magic.
They lead us gently but effectively to find, recognize and assimilate the important concepts of what we had chosen to study.
Our learning community, this year, was composed of a very wide range of students. Some just out of high school, some in the middle of their lives, and others, such as myself, who have been around a lot longer. We had a very wide range of educational goals for our experiences in this program. We had students who were studying teaching, physics, Native American studies, microbiology, Spanish, psychology, and many many more. Our needs were addressed, with encouragement, enthusiasm, guidance, fairness and at a level that would most benefit us, in our individual journeys. They challenged us again and again to widen our experiences, refine our goals, and increase our efforts and to form community. They guided our discussions with extreme tact and subtlety. They entered into our discussions in the stance of “co-learners” but their effect was to guide our discussions with provocative questions and ideas. They were always guiding us but with a gentle enticement rather than a heavy hand.
This is quite a team of instructors! Evergreen and its students are fortunate to have them. They work together like a well-oiled machine. They consistently gave authority to the students to direct their own learning, while acting as the facilitators of that learning. They expressed their viewpoints in our discussions as simply their viewpoints and encouraged us to express ours. This created an atmosphere of tolerance and exploration that added greatly to our experience.
They are all extremely well educated and highly polished in the craft of teaching. Their skill, as instructors, is to be commended. I wish more of the instructors at Evergreen had their level of commitment, expertise, involvement and attitude.
EVALUATION OF TEACHERS -
In one of many e-mail correspondences with Raul, he once wrote: "I am glad you are witnessing an important change at schooling, what we used to think was play at childrens' age, is really active learning. At that age and, really at any other age, we humans learn more by doing activities than by being taught. Our brain is an organ for learning not so much a storage for information. That is the main reason David, Gary, Yvonne and I have these kind of programs like Recognition." This statement made me feel happy knowing that I was successfully accomplishing the goal that this class was designed for. Having these three teachers and participating in the Recognition program for the past three quarters has been a great experience for me. I hope that in the future this program is offered and that other students get the chance to explore the many different opportunities of learning as I did with these teachers. It has truly been a great experience.
Recognition: The Politics of Human Exchange is an excellent class to take. This course promotes student learning through interaction with one another. Some students thrive on group interaction and others prefer to work more independently. One thing that I really liked about this class was the expectation that each student would present their project in front of the class. I enjoy hearing from everyone and students have control over their own presentation style, length, and format.
Even though students chose diverse project topics, we were able to collaborate with one another during class time and through Web Crossing. Web Crossing is an internet site which is an integral part of the class. This site enables classmates to interact with one another while away from class. This site helps students who missed class catch-up and also lets student’s carry-on their conversation out of class. Some students who are quiet are able to voice their opinion on Web Crossing. It is nice to have a variety of media to appeal to everyone’s unique style.
This class is flexible enough for each student to learn what ever they want. This course really allows each one of us to have a hands-on learning experience of our own choosing. The Recognition class time, gives us the opportunity to network with other classmates. Our peers are our community and we all give each other respect. It is exciting to hear about others’ topics and learn from their research.
Recognition is different from other courses here at Evergreen. This class is shared by three facilitators: Raul Nakasone, David Rutledge, and Gary Peterson. All three take the time to get to know their students. The facilitators are flexible and willing to work around individual schedules to fit individual student needs. If students aren’t able to attend class during the week, they may attend a Saturday class. The facilitators also keep in touch with students through Web Crossing. These three facilitators are dedicated to their job of teaching and helping their students learn. They have helped open the eyes of the students to realize that learning can be fun and to go seek your passion. The facilitators also push for all students to interact and get to know the community.
These three aren’t your normal everyday teachers. They don’t take out a red pen and mark all over your papers. They use a different method of teaching. Students are able to direct the discussion and learn from each other. The free-form of this course really causes one to decide how they wish to spend their time. Life is all about choices and we have to live with the choices we make. Some students really apply themselves and walk away with a wonderful learning experience. Others choose a more laid back approach and some will probably regret that decision later in life.
May 24, 2004
"Every lesson is the first lesson. Every time we dance, we do it for the first time. It does not mean we forget what we already know. It means that what we are doing is always new, because we are always doing it for the first time." - Al Chung Liang Huang The Dancing Wu Li Masters By Gary Zukav
"Whatever he does, he does with the enthusiasm of doing it for the first time. This is the source of his unlimited energy. Every lesson that he teaches (or learns) is a first lesson. Every dance he dances, he dances for the first time. It is always new, personal, and alive." - Gary Zukav The Dancing Wu Li Masters
To learn about liberation, and libratory education a student must learn about oppression. To challenge what is socially expectable education at the same time providing a learning environment saturated with substance and opportunity, to trust and support students, and to believe one hundred percent in what students are doing is what it means to be a
faculty member in a student centered program. The flexibility to swiftly coordinate subject-to-subject, theory to praxis and practice is what it means to be a faculty member in a student centered program. The genuineness to always start with the first lesson, to courageously identify with students as equals and to allow the dialogical curriculum of the students to emerge naturally without force, is what it means to be a faculty member in a student centered program.
Our faculty team Yvonne, Gary, David and Raul quickly deconstructed the student teacher dichotomy from the first day of class with an authenticity that maintained consistent throughout the entire year. They boldly commit themselves to student centered learning with truly liberating pedagogy. They make intellectual invitations to their students to exercise their higher level
thinking skills. They have made a point of not getting in the way of students learning but finding a way to coordinate their knowledge and wisdom in a compassionate way withthe emerging curriculum of the students. They regularly stay after class to speak with students, and always listen attentively to students so that they can support them with whatever they are doing. They are very active in creating a learning community that is rich in knowledge and is based upon freedom, the process of liberation, history, cultural pedagogy, and praxis; the action of reflection.
By creating the bridge program our faculty team created the most successful Native American studies program. The bridge program connected History: A Celebration of Place with the Reservation Based Community Determined program creating cultural and educational opportunities unique only to Evergreen. Students were given to opportunity to critically think about previous educational agendas, and to go beyond learning about cultures, to learn from and with cultures other then their own.
Students of Recognition become masters of their own thinking. They learn the value of curriculum development, and instruction. Students become administrators of their own education while being immersed in an environment rich in culture, direction, and opportunities.
Our faculty team is commited to student centered learning. Their abundance of knowledge greatly enriches the learning enviroment. They empower students and give them the opportunity to take their education beyond modern conventions. They are truly a great asset to The Evergreen State College.
Sent: Monday, May 03, 2004 2:30 PM
To: All Faculty
I recently came across this article which I thought others might enjoy reading. It’s both an attachment and within the email
Lab II, rm 3271
The Evergreen State College
Olympia, WA 98505 "Think critically, America needs the help!"
- The text of the article is below - From the issue dated 9/12/2003
By MARSHALL GREGORY
A couple of years ago, in one of the "idea of the university" seminars that I regularly direct for professional staff members, I spoke with a recruiter from the admissions office who enthusiastically agreed with everything I had to say about the aims and practices of liberal education but who reported that she hardly mentioned the nature of liberal education in her standard pitch to prospective students and their parents. When I asked why not, she hemmed and hawed and then blurted out: "If we had the luxury of really explaining liberal education to prospective students the way you are explaining it to us, we'd do it -- but we just don't have that luxury. What our students want to hear about is not liberal education, but jobs!"
As we sat there a moment, silently, the line that Emperor Joseph II repeats in the movie Amadeus kept running through my head: "Well, there it is." So helping students get jobs is a necessity, but helping them get a liberal education is a luxury? If that is the case, I thought, then there's not much difference between liberal education and sports teams, exercise centers, campus movies, and ice cream in the cafeteria, is there? Are we willing to live with that trivialization of higher education?
Those of us who spend our careers putting our hearts and souls into liberal education sometimes fail to realize that the most potent threat to the mission we love comes not from outside enemies but from the proponents of liberal education themselves. At universities that focus on the bottom line -- and what university these days does not? -- supporters of liberal education have been on the defensive for so long, they no longer know how to fight prevailing trends. They don't challenge the current orthodoxy that the modern university must go along to get along, especially in relation to marketplace practices and values. Their friends' support is only lukewarm, sometimes no more than lip service, and would vanish if liberal education became powerful enough to threaten others' resources.
The liberal-education rhetoric that developed in the last century is subtly and quietly accommodationist. Often, in fact, it is a rhetoric of silence. It implicitly concedes the strongest ground in any discussion of educational aims to faculty members from professional and preprofessional programs, who love to insist that students' progress should be measured exclusively by grades and skills, and who seem to believe that making lots of money is an imperative somehow woven into the fabric of the universe itself. Such people almost always talk in narrow, instrumental terms about what a student is to do, rather than talk in broad terms about who that student is to be.
The proper response is to point out that students' overriding concern with postgraduation employment is simply misguided. The real danger is not that students will miss out on a job, but that they will miss out on an education. In 35 years of teaching, I have never seen a student who really wanted a job fail to get one after graduation, regardless of his or her major. (The best predictor of students' future incomes is not their college major; it is their parents' incomes.) But I have seen many students fail to get an education because they were fixated on the fiction that one particular major or another held the magical key to financial success for the rest of their lives.
Students' overriding concern should be how to develop as fully as possible their basic human birthright: their powers of imagination, aesthetic responsiveness, introspection, language, rationality, moral and ethical reasoning, physical capacities, and so on. Those are the powers that students must cultivate if they wish to strive for excellence. Moreover, those are the powers that higher education is especially suited to help students hone.
But while many faculty members talk twaddle about accommodating liberal and vocational education -- by which they mean to "accommodate" liberal education all the way outside the city limits where it won't bother anyone -- we liberal educators too often make no response or, worse, make small, meek noises that suggest we will be content with any moldy corner in the university as long as we can, please heaven, just have that corner. I cannot remember the last time I heard any liberal educator bluntly and emphatically challenge the presumptions behind the preprofessional rhetoric of narrow utilitarianism, which always paints itself as simply being realistic (a rhetorical strategy that condescendingly marks liberal educators as people with no proper grasp of reality).
Accommodationist rhetoric began as a coping mechanism to allow liberal education to coexist with burgeoning professional and preprofessional programs. However, coping mechanisms that stay around too long run the risk of becoming dysfunctional. Liberal educators have tried immensely hard to avoid giving offense to the futurists and instrumentalists who increasingly control university programs today. And we have succeeded. We are nothing if not inoffensive. However, our rhetoric of accommodation also makes us seem irrelevant and hopelessly old-fashioned, like the crocheted doilies that my grandmothers placed on every armchair in their homes.
Liberal education should not be about going along to get along. It's not about a genteel frosting of humane learning -- like knowing that Bizet, despite composing Carmen, was French, not Spanish. It's not merely about being well rounded, whatever that cliche means, nor is it about being able to discuss a variety of entertaining topics at cocktail parties. Con men can be well rounded, and fools can be entertaining.
Liberal education is the pursuit of human excellence, not the pursuit of excellent salaries and excellent forms of polish and sophistication. Liberal education is not even about excellent intellectual achievements. Its goal is more ethical than intellectual: It focuses on the development of individuals as moral agents, and it teaches students how to reflect both analytically and evaluatively on the fact that the choices we make turn us into the persons we become.
If the enterprise I have just described is a luxury, then I cannot begin to define a necessity. What could be more necessary for any human being than learning how to claim, develop, enjoy, and put to public use the distinctive advantages of our nature -- to be able, first, to choose the kind of person that we turn out to be and, second, to influence the kinds of persons that others turn out to be? If liberal education is a luxury, then so is truth in a courtroom, love in marriage, or kindness in response to suffering.
I regret that I must contradict the young recruiter in my staff seminar. She was, after all, only reflecting accurately and conscientiously the views and pressures that she receives from her usual audience of prospective students and their parents. But challenging those views, no matter who expresses them, is crucial for liberal educators. No matter what career we choose, the single job that every human being has to work at is the job of deciding what kind of person he or she will become. That is a requirement grounded in the existential conditions of human life. What are discretionary are goals that have little to do with the pursuit of human excellence. And when those discretionary pursuits begin to define all of education, as they threaten to do in academe today, then true education becomes trivialized. Most of the professional and technical training that people need for their jobs actually takes place on the job, and valuing that training above education comes perilously close to making colleges and universities minor-league farm clubs for the world's corporations and bureaucracies.
Liberal education represents the last and best -- but least understood and least appreciated -- mechanism for achieving the fullest development of human potential. Today's universities too often pander to, rather than challenge, students' educational utilitarianism. But who is better equipped to help cure that problem than liberal educators? Surely we can make a strong case for liberal education instead of using accommodationist rhetoric that gives the store away before students have a chance to see what's on the shelves. Without our assistance, students may never understand that they get the profits from buying the wares of liberal education, and that those wares appreciate in value as students use them in a lifetime pursuit of human excellence.
Marshall Gregory is a professor of English, liberal education, and pedagogy at Butler University.
Quotes from Paulo
- 08:52am Nov 7, 2003